Somewhere Beyond the Blue?

This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you

If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

I have a loving mother just up in Gloryland
She’s waiting now for me in heaven’s open door
And I don’t expect to stop until I shake her hand
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Oh Lord you know…

Just over in Gloryland we’ll live eternally
The saints on every hand are shouting victory

Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Oh Lord you know…


When we read the Bible, we see something over and over again.  G’d dwelling with us.  G’d dwelling with His people.  Here.  On earth.

He walked in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve.

They heard the sound of the L-rd G-d walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the L-rd G-d among the trees of the garden.  (Genesis 3:8)

He dwelled with His people in the Tabernacle.

Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.  (Exodus 25:8)

Since the L-rd your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.  (Deuteronomy 23:14)

And, in the Temple.

It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the L-rd, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the L-rd filled the house of the L-rd.  Then Solomon said,   “The L-rd has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.  I have surely built You a lofty house, a place for Your dwelling forever.”  (1 Kings 8:10-13)

His Son, Yeshua (Jesus). dwelled among His people, being called “G’d with us.”

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “G-d with us.”  (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14)

In the Millennial Kingdom (1000-year reign, whatever you call it), yet again He will dwell here, on earth, with His people.

Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the L-rd. “Many nations will join themselves to the L-rd in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the L-rd of hosts has sent Me to you. The L-rd will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.  (Zechariah 2:10-12)

Thus says the L-rd, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the L-rd of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’  (Zechariah 8:3)

And, finally, it culminates with the new heaven and new earth, and the new Jerusalem.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from G-d, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of G-d is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and G-d Himself will be among them … (Revelation 21:1-3)

It is pretty clear, from these verses, that G’d seems to desire to dwell here, among His people, at a very specific place.  Before sin entered the world, He walked in the Garden.  Even though we sinned, separating ourselves from Him and from His presence, He still sought to dwell among His people, to walk with them (Leviticus 26:11-13).  Thus, the Tabernacle, and the Temple.  The Temple will be rebuilt again, where he will dwell in the Millennial Kingdom (Zechariah 6:12-13Ezekiel 40-48).  Finally will come a final restoration, where G’d will again be dwelling among His people, in the new Jerusalem.  There is no need for a Temple there (Revelation 21:22), as there was no need before the fall.  But note, the new Jerusalem is not in the heavens, it comes down out of heaven.

If this is so, then why are there songs and hymns such as the above, which speak of Heaven as some non-physical, other-worldly home where G’d is and will dwell for eternity, and where we will go, where, as some believe, we will not even be physically resurrected but be non-physical “spirit” beings?

These are concepts found not in the Hebrew Bible, but in Greek philosophy.

Plato and Socrates, the famous Greek philosophers, had a theory called the Theory of Forms, or of Ideas. The idea it embodied was certainly not new to them, it was a concept that was part of the Greek mindset.  It was that there was a distinction between the physical world and the world of ideas, something non-physical. That world was superior to the physical world, and the unconscious soul transcends the material world.

There was an ancient Greek religion known as Orphism, which bears many striking resemblances to the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.  While Orphism was not the mainstream religion of ancient Greece, it influenced many prominent philosophers and thinkers, including Plato.  Orphism held to the belief of reincarnation, where there is a cycle of death and rebirth into a different physical form.  This is a bit closer to the physical nature of resurrection that is found in the Bible, than were the beliefs of mainstream Greek religion (which typically believed the disembodied soul or spirit would go to the underworld, to Elysium – akin to heaven – or haunt the upper world as a ghost).  Even so, the ultimate goal of reincarnation is to escape that cycle and become “liberated.”

In case there was any doubt, the Bible teaches that the resurrection is, in fact, a bodily resurrection.

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. (Luke 24:39)

Beloved, now we are children of G-d, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)

This concept of bodily resurrection is not unique to the “New Testament,” and can be evidenced in places such as Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Job 19:25-27.

Somehow, with strong influence of Greek thought, Christianity absorbed the idea that the physical realm is something to be transcended, and this became a desire to escape from this world to heaven, the end goal of salvation itself became “getting to heaven.”  Somewhere beyond the blue is now the ultimate place, the reason we give our lives to G’d.  We ask, “Do you know where you will go when you die?”

But, G’d doesn’t want to whisk us away to some ethereal place.  That’s what Plato wants.  That’s what Socrates wants.  G’d wants restoration.  He wants us to return to him.  He wants to dwell with us, as He did in the Garden of Eden.

Why do we want to escape, what G’d wants to restore?

The physical world is not evil, it is not something to be transcended.  Yes, there is sin, yes, it is fallen.  But this is our home.

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.  (Genesis 1:31)

Putting its emphasis on the “heavenly,” there has been a tendency to neglect the physical world around us. Things such as tithing, giving to charity, serving in the church, are ways to “lay up treasure in heaven,” with the actual act being of secondary importance.  Things even more mundane, like driving the speed limit, being a person of integrity at work, paying taxes on time, and so on, are not really seen as “heavenly” at all.  Sure, they speak to the state of the heart, which is important, but the act itself is seen as even less important in the overall view, because they are worldly, temporary, not spiritual.

The “works of the Kingdom” are considered those things which are somehow particularly spiritual, things which matter more within the heavenly realm than this world.  But what is the Kingdom of Heaven?  Of course, we are all familiar with this verse:

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:9-10)

But the Kingdom of Heaven is not just something that is to come, it is something that is already here!

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  (Luke 17:20-21)

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 10:7)

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our L-rd and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”  (Revelation 11:15)

So if it already here (though not in its fullest), doesn’t it follow that everything we do must be a “work of the kingdom?”  And if there is no separation between physical and heavenly, the same conclusion can be drawn.

We’re not called to just have a good concept, or a sound intellectual understanding.  If all we do is simply recognize the Greek influence on our view, we are still falling into that same Greek mode of thought.  Thought and action, forms and physicality, cannot be uncoupled.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which G-d prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)

We are called not to adhere to all the right creeds, but to do the true “work of the Kingdom.”

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the L-rd require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your G-d?
(Micah 6:8)

It is what Yeshua Himself did during His ministry here on earth.  His actions focused on the real, physical reality: giving sight to the blind, making the lame to walk …

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matthew 11:2-5 and Luke 7:20-22) (See Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1)

From the prophets we can see clearly what He is looking for.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress. (Isaiah 5:7)

He will separate the sheep from the goats, not based on their creeds, the statement of faith they signed their agreement to, but based on what?

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “L-rd, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
(Matthew 25:31-46)

And those, the sheep, will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.


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